Saturday, March 29, 2014

St. Clair Regional Airport (K39), Missouri

City Objects To Request for Extension:  Airport Tenants Want Another 120 Days to Amend Complaint

The city has filed an official objection with the Federal Aviation Administration against airport tenant Jim DeVries’ request for a 120-day extension on the organization’s ruling on a complaint regarding the St. Clair Regional Airport.

City Attorney Kurt Voss filed the objection on behalf of the city on Thursday.

“This complaint has been pending for over 23 months, with the original complaint being filed on or about April 21, 2012,” Voss’ document reads. “No new pleadings or complaints have been filed by complainants during this 23-month period.

“Complainants’ request for extension of time fails to set forth a single fact or event that has transpired since the complaint was filed necessitating this request for additional time.”

The extension request, filed with the FAA by DeVries on behalf of himself and the other three tenants at the airport as well as former tenants at the facility, simply states the extension is “in order to amend the original complaint.”

“Due to the fact that events have transpired during the original filing period, to date, that have bearing on this case, the complainants would like additional time to document these events and provide new evidence that is relevant to this case,” DeVries’ document reads.

The next and last sentence then states that attempts were made to “resolve” issues by inviting the city to a meeting.

“The city did not respond to the invitation,” the document reads.

There are no specifics or details of any kind included.

DeVries’ name is the only one listed on the request. None of the pilots who rent hangar space at the regional airport live in St. Clair.

“Complainants allegation that a meeting was requested cannot be substantiated,” the city’s objection states. “The city met with the lessees of hangar space in March of 2013 to resolve all issues regarding the hangar lease renewals at the airport. To the best of the city’s knowledge, information and belief, complainants have not requested a meeting with the city of St. Clair in over 12 months.”


Earlier this month, the FAA granted itself a seventh extension to rule on DeVries’ complaint. City officials received the notification after the FAA’s sixth deadline came and went with no word on March 3.

The latest extension, ordered by Randall S. Fiertz, FAA director of airport compliance and management analysis, is worded exactly the same as the sixth extension, which was granted in early February to March 3. The latest extension is to April 3.

The complaint, officially titled a “14 C.F.R. Part 16,” was sent to FAA personnel and alleges “noncompliance by the city of St. Clair Regional Airport, the sponsor of the airport, of its obligations under federal law applicable to the operation of an airport.”


Closing the airport has been a priority of Mayor Ron Blum and his administration since he took office in 2007. According to the FAA, it won’t consider closing the airport until the Part 16 complaint is resolved.

The city wants to close the facility on the north side of town to make room for economic development. Permission needs to be granted by the FAA because St. Clair obtained federal grants, as late as 2006, to make improvements there.

The city and the FAA have sent correspondence back and forth regarding the airport for years. Each time a corrective measure has been requested, the city has said it has addressed and fixed the situation.

Last year, the Missouri Department of Transportation said it will not oppose closure of the airport.

“We believe this to be inappropriate and untimely and a simple ploy to attempt to further stall any determination on the original filing, which has been responded to in full, and thus further stall a decision on closure of the airport,” City Administrator Rick Childers said.

The Missourian attempted to contact DeVries. He refused to comment, saying it would be “inappropriate” to do so.

DeVries, who lives in Pacific, often targets and attacks the city and its administration on his blog, which he calls “The St. Clair Airport blog.”

A March 26 posting relating to St. Clair’s attempts to work with the FAA on closure states that, “If you were to take a look at where the city is now and where they need to be, you would realize that the city’s plan is not working. From the aviation point of view, it appears that the city is actually going backwards. With little to no aviation expertise, the city is trying to invent a new way to close an airport.

“The city has produced documents that state their redevelopment plan, and their closure request, and both of these documents in reality provide documentation that the city is not living up to its federal requirements to operate the airport.”

The end of that post also states that “closure is hopeless.”

“One high ranking FAA official put it this way, there is no support for the St. Clair plan, anywhere in the entire FAA organization,” the blog states

The blog does not provide any proof of that last statement.

The city’s objection ends by stating that, “the city of St. Clair asserts that this request for extension of time is merely a continuing and ongoing effort by complainants to delay and postpone the FAA’s ruling on the Part 16 complaint and frustrate the city’s pending request of closure of its airport.

“The FAA should not grant a request for additional time without detailed documentation showing a meritorious reason for the extension.

“Wherefore, the city of St. Clair requests that complainants request for extension of time be denied and the Part 16 complaint be decided on or before April 3, 2014, as set forth in the seventh notice of extension of time filed by the director of airport compliance and management analysis.”